Allegrini 2018

Wine and auctions, 2018 super: world wine industry at 467 million dollars (+22% on 2017)

WineNews estimates among the results of the most important international auction companies, in a year that has scored many new records
2018 record for wine auctions, Acker Merral and Condid Queen with 105 million euros

It will not be the record of 2011 when the world wine auctions reached the figure of 478 million dollars (estimate of Wine Spectator), but 2018, according to the survey of WineNews among the balance sheets of the most important international companies, it was very close. With a turnover of around 467 million dollars (pending the final data of Zachys, who turned in mid-2018 to 34.6 million dollars, up on 2017, when they eventually reached almost 80 million dollars), with an impressive growth of more than 22% over 2017, closed at 381 million dollars.

Acker Merrall & Condid, a historic American company specializing in wine, has played the lion’s share in a record-breaking year, with a total of 105 million dollars, in the year that saw it exceed the total of one billion dollars in auction sales since its foundation in 1820. Then, the wine division of one of the most important names in the world of auctions, the London-based Sothebyʼs, which, for the first time, has exceeded 100 million dollars in wine & spirits sales, in front, as mentioned, of the American Zachys (whose final figures are still missing), which should have well exceeded the 80 million dollars reached in 2017.

Another very important achievement was that of Hart Davis Hart, an auctioneer based in New York and active only in the American market, which closed 2018 with 77 million dollars in revenue, in a year, as they say in jargon, from “white gloves”, with all 7 auctions sent under the hammer that have seen the award of 100% of the lots in the catalog. It was also a positive year for the oenological division of another historical colossus of enchantments, Christieʼs, which put together a total of around 58 million dollars.

The results of the young Swiss company specialized in fine wines, Baghera Wines, are also remarkable, reaching 47.3 million dollars in awards, collecting the record of the most profitable auction of the year, that of “Henri Jayer”, with over 855 bottles and 209 magnums from the personal cellar of the legendary producer of Burgundy, Henry Jayer, who received over 35 million euros.
In the year that saw the importance and success of Burgundy wines grow, even more, the absolute record for a single bottle of Romanée-Conti Domaine de la Romanée-Conti 1945 also arrived, beating one for 558,000 dollars and one for 496,000 dollars from Sothebyʼs.
2018 has consolidated several trends. On the one hand, the growing weight of Asia, because while it is true that there has been a certain rebalancing between the American, European and Asian markets, for many auction houses over 80% of the awards are attributable to Asian collectors; on the other hand, the importance of the “ex-cellar” auctions, that is, those coming directly from the production cellars, and of the collections of famous enthusiasts (in 2018, under the spotlight, collections such as those of the aforementioned Henry Jayer, but also of names such as Jerry Perenchio, for example), a guarantee not only of quality, but also of the originality of the wines, in a market, that of auctions, which in the recent past has been plagued by scams that are not so rare.
Another element that emerges is the growing weight of the online, as witnessed by the case of Hard Davis Hart, who has awarded more than 10% of his turnover via the web.
In Italy, again, the big names are always the same: from Masseto to Sassicaia, from Solaia to Ornellaia, from Tignanello to the great Piedmontese such as Conterno, Giacosa and Gaja, from labels such as Le Pergole Torte di Montevertine to the great Sangiovese made in Montalcino, such as the Brunello di Montalcino Riserva of Tenuta Greppo di Biondi Santi, or bottles of Case Basse by Gianfranco Soldera, to name a few. But with rising prices, and more and more attention to the production of the Belpaese by collectors. In short, in terms of auctions, the one that has just been closed was an excellent vintage, even for the Italian labels, as evidenced a few days ago also by the words of Raimondo Romani, who, together with Flaviano Gelardini, heads Gelardini & Romani, the only Italian auctioneer specialized in wine that operates internationally, between Rome and Hong Kong.

“The air has changed - explains Romani - since we arrived in Hong Kong seven years ago if you think of wines that were sold for 70 euros a bottle, and today they are at least 200. Of course, they are not figures that make noise, and after all, in Italy, we do not have bottles like those of 1945 of Domaine de La Romanèe Conti that have popped quotations of half a million dollars in recent days in New York. The wine industry is not just about reality like these, it is like talking about cars we only think about Bugatti. The attention for Italian wine has grown and is growing a lot, also thanks to the many varieties that our country can offer, which for the collector is captivating and fun, and on average there is no longer the abyss that there was with France. Of course, the aspect of the depth of the vintage counts: the French, with Bordeaux and Burgundy, have many labels of level that go up to the fifties of the last century, we in fact, with very few exceptions, we start from the ‘90s, or from the '80s with some Barolo and Barbaresco and little else.
Things are changing, it takes time, we think the outlook is very positive, also because wine, in this part of the world, is becoming part of everyday social life at all levels, not only among the super-rich, and this greatly expands the market. Which, moreover, is moving decisively more and more towards elegant and fine wines, to the detriment of the more muscular and powerful ones”.

This, explains Romani, “will also be seen in the update that we will make in 2019 of our classification of the Grand Cru of Italy” (the 30 most sought after and appreciated Italian wine labels by collectors and investors around the world, classified according to the highest price levels and the lowest percentage of unsold lots registered by Gelardini & Romani Wine Auction, which currently has at its top the Brunello di Montalcino Riserva di Biondi Santi, the Masseto and the Barolo Monfortino Riserva di Giacomo Conterno, followed, in the second band, by the Amarone della Valpolicella di Romano dal Forno and Giuseppe Quintarelli, the Barolo Riserva Rocche del Falletto and the Barbaresco Riserva Etichetta Rossa di Bruno Giacosa, the Brunello di Montalcino di Case Basse di Gianfranco Soldera and the Redigaffi di Tua Rita). Today there is curiosity and a desire for change. Etna, for example, is going very fast, there are cards of restaurants in Hong Kong that have assortments that are not to be found in Italy. People, even collectors, are looking for more and more originality, wines that tell stories and, more than the company or the brand, they are looking for the expression of the vineyard in the glass”.

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